So I was stirring a martini this evening, and it occurred to me that I should really just go ahead and see if shaking or stirring a cocktail adds more ice melt. Ice melt is the amount of water added due to ice cubes melting during the mixing process. People often think that shaking will add less due to the fact that stirring takes so much longer. However, that’s theoretically not the case, at least according to bar tenders I’ve talked to and read posts from. I tend to think the bartenders are right, and certainly the texture is reason enough to make your martini stirred, but I decided to do a quick and dirty experiment to see if I could really see a difference. Here’s what I did:

  1. Made a martini. I’d been wanting to go back to the Junipero gin I picked up a few months ago, so I did. Still not a favorite of mine, but it makes a fun martini that certainly lives up to the “juniper” part of the name.
  2. Poured some water in a mixing bowl. The water was approximately room temperature, and then I let it sit for a while. I didn’t want the temperature to change between the two mixings.
    Bowl & Measuring Cup
  3. Ensured my shaker was dry from previous use…
  4. Carefully measured out 1/3 a cup of the room temperature water. This picture is a little blurry as it’s somewhat difficult to get a good shot of a clear liquid in a glass container.
    Water Pre-Shaken
  5. Added 4 ice cubes. For both the shaken and stirred I tried to use similar sized cubes, which meant a bit of eyeballing as well as removing areas where the water had sat over the dividing section and froze. Not particularly exact science here, but hopefully close enough.
  6. Shook the mixture. I tend to want my drinks cold, so I shook it about 70 times. That’s more than normal, but I was exaggerating things a bit to hopefully produce a visible result.
  7. Dried the measure cup and poured the water back in. You can see that a fair amount of water was added:
    Photo 1: Shaken 1
    Photo 2: Shaken 2
  8. Then I dumped out everything, rinsed and let it sit for a while to return to room temperature. While this was going on, I dried the shaker.
  9. Repeat the process, but stirred 70 times. This took considerably longer, and I took my time since stirring should take longer. Here is the water before I added it to the ice in the shaker:
    Water Pre-Stirred
    It looked like possibly a hair more than what I used for shaken, but very close.
  10. When I measured the results, they were similar, but the stirred does seem to have less ice melt.
    Photo 1: Stirred 1
    Photo 2: Stirred 2

The main conclusion is that I need more precise measure instruments. That being said, it does look to me like stirring the drink adds less ice melt. This backs up the general consensus by those wiser and more experienced than I. Still, it’s nice to have confirmation. Even if it’s not terribly dramatic, the results are enough to satisfy my curiosity. In the end, the Junipero martini was tasty, so I consider the experiment a success!